Jobless Rate Rises In South

Jobless rate rises in south

Written by Dave Mabell
The Lethbridge Herald
Friday, 05 February 2010

Canadas jobless rate dropped slightly to 8.3 per cent in January, while officials at Statistics Canada report Albertas rate, 6.6 per cent was unchanged from the previous month. But southern Albertas jobless rate an even six per cent represented a jump from 5.4 per cent during December.

A year ago, the regional rate was pegged at an even four per cent. Even so, an economic development spokesperson points out, numbers in the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat area show an employment picture better than Calgary (7.3 per cent jobless), Red Deer (7.2) or Edmonton (6.7 per cent)

Albertas lowest jobless rate, 4.2 per cent, was in Fort McMurray last month.

This is normal for this time of year, says Cheryl Dick, CEO for Economic Development Lethbridge.

Last year we saw a 0.9 point jump in the same month-over-month period, and just two years before (Dec 2006 to Jan. 2007) an entire 1.0 percentage point increase.

This months results reflect a fairly typical seasonal response, while we can see that the slow recovery in the oil industry is starting to move the other centres that rely on that industry.

While about 6,300 more Albertans had gained full-time work in January, StatsCan reports the number of seasonal part-time workers was down about 13,900 from the pre-Christmas rush. Biggest employment gains last month were reported in Albertas education, health care, scientific, technical and professional fields.

That put Albertas employment rate at 68.5 per cent, StatsCan reports. Boasting the nations lowest jobless rates, Saskatchewan (4.7 per cent) and Manitoba (5.4 per cent) are close behind Alberta in the proportion of their adult populations actually working.

Albertas employment and immigration department reports this provinces participation rate, counting just those who are working or actively looking for work, at 73.4 per cent.

And nationally, StatsCan reports 43,000 new jobs most of them part-time were filled during January. That beat economists projections, spurring guarded optimism on Bay Street.

The erratic recovery in the job market continues, notes Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. While the details of this report were less impressive than the headline results, there is little doubt that the job market is grinding forward.

Toronto-based Porter notes employment is just one-tenth of a percentage point below the levels of a year ago.

And thats an amazingly quick turnaround from the dismal conditions of early last year, all things considered.

Alberta employment officials also report a 600-job gain for aboriginal males last month in part-time positions while about 400 women lost part-time work. The off-reserve participation rate rose to 70 per cent in January, they add, pushing the unemployment rate in Calgary to 13.7 per cent while the rest of the province dropped to a 14.3 per cent jobless average.

With files from The Canadian Press